Andreea Mădălina Răducan (born 30 September 1983) is a retired gymnast from Bârlad, Romania. Răducan began competing in gymnastics at a young age and was training at the Romanian junior national facility by the age of 12½. As one of the standout gymnasts of the Romanian team in the late 1990s, Răducan was known for her difficult repertoire of skills (with the exception of bars) and her refreshing dance and presentation, contrary to most of her other teammates at the time. Over the course of her four-year senior career, she won Olympic or World Championships medals on every event except the uneven bars and earned three individual World Championships titles, on the floor exercise in 1999 and 2001 and the balance beam in 2001.
Răducan competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where she contributed heavily to the Romanian team's gold medal and won an individual silver medal on the vault. She was also the original winner of the all-around title, but was disqualified and stripped of her gold medal shortly after the competition concluded, when it was revealed that she had failed doping controls, testing positive for pseudoephedrine, at the time a banned substance. She and her coaches maintained that she had been given the substance in two cold medicine pills by a Romanian team physician, and that they had not impacted her performance in any way.
The case generated a significant amount of media attention, and Răducan was supported by members of the gymnastics community and the Romanian public. Her case was brought to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the fall of 2000. Răducan herself was exonerated of any personal wrongdoing by the CAS, the Romanian Olympic Committee and the International Gymnastics Federation, and was not subject to any disciplinary measures. However, her medal was not reinstated, and the team doctor who administered the Nurofen was banned for two Olympic cycles.
Răducan returned the year after the Olympics to win five additional World Championships medals, but retired from gymnastics in 2002. As an adult, she has worked as a sports announcer and media personality, and has pursued University level studies in journalism. She currently serves as the president of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation.
Andreea Răducan was one of the "new generation gymnasts" groomed to take over the torch of Romanian gymnastics excellence after the retirements of Olympic medalists Lavinia Miloşovici and Gina Gogean. She began gymnastics at the age of four and a half in her hometown of Bârlad. In 1996, after winning over twenty medals in local and regional competitions, she was invited to train at the Romanian junior team facility in Oneşti. Two years later, she was promoted to the national training center in Deva.
Răducan's first major international event was the 1998 Junior European Championships, where she won a silver medal on the balance beam, tied for bronze on the floor exercise and took fourth place in the all-around. The next year, she rose to the senior ranks and made an impact at the World Championships in Tianjin, China, winning the FX final and placing fifth in the all-around.
While Răducan's work on the uneven bars was considered weak, her skills on beam, vault and floor exercise were applauded. She was also admired because, unlike other members of the Romanian team, she showed a great deal of expression in her choreography and a wide variety of complex skills in her routines.
Răducan competed well at the Sydney Olympics, helping the Romanian women to win their first Olympic team gold medal since 1984. She qualified for the floor and vault event finals, and, along with teammates Simona Amânar and Maria Olaru, the all-around finals. In the preliminary round of competition, she had the second highest all-around score of all competitors in the meet, trailing behind Russia's Svetlana Khorkina by 0.288.
The all-around was mired in controversy. The vault was accidentally set 5 centimeters too low, creating a dangerous situation that completely altered the gymnasts' pre and post flights. As a result of the incorrectly set vault, many gymnasts suffered serious crashes and injuries during both the warmups and the competition, including Khorkina. One athlete, British gymnast Annika Reeder, was hurt badly enough to withdraw from the remainder of the meet. Even those who escaped injury found themselves shaken by their experiences on the vault. When the error was discovered by Australian gymnast Allana Slater in the third rotation, International Federation of Gymnastics officials reset the vault height and allowed the competition to continue. They did permit the gymnasts who had vaulted in the first two rotations to take another turn on vault and be rescored; not every athlete accepted this offer.
Răducan was one of the gymnasts who had vaulted on the incorrectly set apparatus but did not suffer a fall on the event and performed without serious error. She continued through the competition, turning in strong performances on beam and floor, and ended up with the all-around gold medal. Also on the podium with her were her Romanian teammates; Amânar with silver and Olaru with bronze. Răducan was the first Romanian gymnast to win the Olympic all-around title since Nadia Comăneci in 1976; it was also the first time since 1960 that gymnasts from a single country swept the WAG all-around podium at the Olympics. It was also the last time it was possible for three gymnasts from the same country to sweep the all around, as the 'two per country rule' was introduced in the next Olympic cycle.
Raducan qualified for the vault and floor exercise event finals. She placed second in the vault final, but surprisingly fell in the floor exercise final and finished sixth.
Several days after the competition concluded, the IOC announced that Răducan had tested positive for pseudoephedrine, a banned substance at that time. Amânar had also tested positive for Nurofen, but as she was taller and heavier than Răducan, the substance did not register as being over the allowed amount as it had with her younger teammate.
Răducan and her coaches maintained that she was innocent, and that as a minor, she had only followed the treatment plan the team physician, Ioachim Oana, had recommended. The night before the competition, she had been given Nurofen, a common over-the-counter medication, to help treat a fever and cough. She also said that the pills had made her feel dizzy instead of helping her in any way.
Despite strenuous appeals from Răducan, her coaches, the Romanian Gymnastics Federation and certain members of the gymnastics community, she was stripped of her gold medal. The gold was re-awarded to Amânar, Olaru was promoted to silver, and former fourth-place finisher Liu Xuan from China was given the bronze medal. Răducan's test samples from the team and vault event finals were clean; she was therefore allowed to keep the medals she won in these competitions. The Romanian team doctor who gave Răducan the drug in two cold medicine pills was expelled from the Games and suspended through the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
Both Amânar and Olaru expressed their belief that Răducan was the deserving all-around gold medalist, as did Liu Xuan, who noted, "I think the all-around champ (Răducan) is very good. I feel very sad and sorry for her that this problem occurred. I can't make sense of it. ... In gymnastics we rely on technique to compete our moves. It's not possibly to rely on drugs or strength, you have to rely on skill." All three declined a formal ceremony when the medals were re-awarded. Following the announcement that Răducan would be stripped of her medal, Olaru and Amânar initially decided to refuse their new medals; however, they changed their minds in order to bring the medals back to Romania. Amânar said of the gold medal, "I didn't win it. It was won by Andreea and belongs to Andreea." She did in fact return the medal to Răducan back in Romania.
Răducan's case was brought before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in late September 2000. While the arbitration panel did concede that Răducan had not gained any advantage by taking the pseudoephedrine, and that she was an underage athlete who had followed her team physician's instructions, they also upheld the IOC's decision. The basis for their decision was the belief that the Anti-Doping Code of the Olympics had to be enforced "without compromise," regardless of the intentions or age of the athlete.
Răducan was exonerated of any personal wrongdoing by the Romanian Olympic Committee, and therefore was not subjected to the sporting ban usually imposed on athletes involved in doping cases. However Ion Ţiriac, the president of the Romanian Olympic Committee (ROC), resigned over the scandal. The Executive Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) also unanimously decided not to impose any suspension or punishment on Răducan, taking the stance that losing her medal "was punishment enough for an athlete who was innocent in this situation." The FIG, IOC and ROC all agreed with the punishment and suspension of Dr. Oana, viewing him as the guilty party for administering the banned substance to Răducan and her teammate. Oana was permitted to keep his medical license and was cleared of malpractice by the Deva Physicians' Association, who stated that he had not committed any offense "from a medical perspective".
Despite the controversy, Răducan was still seen as a positive and even sympathetic figure. She received a significant amount of support in Romania, and members of the gymnastics community, including Nadia Comăneci, publicly expressed their support. Upon returning to Romania with her teammates, she was personally greeted and presented with flowers by Romanian President Emil Constantinescu.
Răducan was given a replacement medal in pure gold by a Romanian jeweler; she also received several endorsements and sponsorships. At one point, a Răducan doll was even rumored to be in the works. In addition, the prize money she would have been awarded from the Romanian Olympic Committee for her all-around gold was replaced, and doubled, by a group of Romanian businessmen. She, along with Amanar, was awarded a diplomatic passport by the Romanian government for being a "good ambassador for Romania."
Răducan continued to train in Deva after the Olympics. With the retirement of her Sydney teammates Amanar, Olaru, and Presacan, she found herself as one of the senior gymnasts at Deva. At the 2001 World Championships in Ghent, Belgium, she was part of the gold-medal winning Romanian team and picked up four individual medals: gold on floor and beam and bronze in the all-around and vault. Injuries and other concerns marred her training in 2002, and after a poor showing at the Worlds in Hungary, she quietly retired.
Currently, Răducan is a sports announcer in Romania. Her assignments for EuroSport have included the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She also has her own television show and does various modelling and promotional work. Răducan earned her Masters degree in journalism at the University of Bucharest. In 2017, she announced her candidacy for president of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation. She was officially named president in August.
|1998||Saint Petersburg Junior European Championships||4||2nd||3rd|
|Junior International Team Championships||3rd||2nd|
|1999||Arthur Gander Memorial||3rd|
|Massilia Gym Cup||2nd|
|International Mixed Pairs||1st||4|
|Tianjin World Championships||1st||5||1st|
|2000||Paris European Championships||3rd||2nd|
|Sydney Olympic Games||1st||1|
|Cottbus World Cup||7||2nd|
|Romanian National Championships||1st|
|2001||Ghent World Championships||1st||3rd||3rd||1st||1st|
|Romanian National Championships||3rd|
|Massilia Gym Cup||1st|